Putting in a door and need a door lock? You have options. 10 to be exact. Discover the 10 types of door locks here with photos and detailed descriptions of each. This is the ultimate door lock buying guide.
Whether you’re locking a front door, pocket door or cabinet door, you want the best locking system for the job. Below we set out 10 door lock options.
A. Door Lock Buying Guide
Door locks are an essential part of a home, keeping your family, house, and your belongings safe. When you make a trip to the hardware store, though, you’ll find several types of locks in various shapes, sizes, and designs. What one is the right one for your home?
This ultimate guide to door locks will help you decipher the differences between different locks so that you can find the right kind for your external and internal doors. After all, your office door won’t need the same type of lock as your front or rear door.
Let’s first look at the parts of a door lock so that you can understand how they work together to create the lock.
B. Parts of a Door Lock
If you ever need to replace locks on your doors, you’ll need to know the individual names for parts, their importance for the overall mechanism, and how they help the other parts work to lock the door.
Depending on the type of door lock, which we’ll get to in a moment, the parts may differ in looks and how they work. Generally, though, these are the standard parts of door locks that you’ll see in most standard locks.
The cylinder is the part of the lock where the key goes. Your key must fit the cylinder correctly, which will permit you to open the lock. Even a slightly misshapen key will result in the cylinder keeping the lock from unlocking.
The cylinder contains several spring-loaded pins that move when you place the key inside. If you insert the correct key, the pins will move as the key moves further into the cylinder, prompting the lock to unlock by opening the bolt using electronic door locks.
In some cases, you can replace a damaged cylinder. This is a good option if the full door lock mechanism will be expensive to replace. But, it’s often less expensive to purchase a new lock.
a. Single Cylinder
Single cylinder locks only have a space for a key on one side. The other side has a twist knob that locks the door from the other side. The key side is on the external part of the door, while the internal part has the knob so that you can lock your door from the inside without a key.
b. Double Cylinder
Double cylinder locks do knot have a twist knob and require a key on either side. These locks are good for places where you don’t want anyone to be able to lock the door from the inside without a key, such as a public restroom.
When the key fits the cylinder, the pins inside the cylinder move, engaging the bolt – sometimes called a latch – within the door lock. This is the part of the lock that moves in and out and rests in the carved-out part of the door frame, known as the box, when the door is locked, keeping it in place.
a. Dead Bolt
A deadbolt is one that you must lock yourself. This is the type of lock that will have a cylinder that requires the correct key to open it. Deadbolts are considered to be safer and more durable than spring bolts, which is why most homes and businesses opt for them, or a combination of the two.
b. Spring Bolt
Spring bolts have a small clip that holds them in place. When the key moves the pins in the cylinder, the clip will compress, which unlocks the bolt and allows it to move back inside the lock to open the door.
The act of closing the door causes the spring to release, which moves the bolt back in place to keep the door closed. Most of the time, spring bolt locks will lock on their own when you close the door, much like the type of lock you’d find on a hotel door.
These are good options for additional security for people who may forget to lock the door behind them.
3. Strike Plate
The strike plate is where the lock attaches to the door frame to keep the door in position when you lock it. This piece is a simple, metal part that you can screw to the door frame and is the easiest part of a lock to replace if it becomes damaged.
The box is the part of the door frame where the bolt latches. The box is usually a small, squarish hole designed to fit the bolt. Most bolts are similar in size, making the box a similar size that can fit most locks in the home.
C. Types of Door Locks
You can use different kinds of door locks for a variety of purposes. Some locks are better to use on doors leading to the outside of your home because they provide more security to keep intruders from entering.
Other locks are good for keeping doors within your home secure, like bathroom and closet doors. They provide just enough security to keep others out, but without the safety level needed for outside doors.
Some locks are ones you can lock from the outside of the door, others are only for locking from the inside of your door, while others are ones you can lock from either the outside or inside.
The following are several of the types of door locks you might find and how they differ from one another:
1. Doorknob Locks
Doorknob locks are, perhaps, the most common type of lock you’ll see on homes, especially on inner doors, like bathrooms and bedrooms. They’re also often one of the kinds to grace the front door, in combination with a deadbolt or other, more secure, lock.
Doorknob locks have the locking mechanism within the doorknob. These locks have knobs on either side of the door and can have a single or double cylinder, depending on whether you’d like the door to lock from the inside or not.
Handleset locks have a handle on the external side and either a keyed opening or twist knob on the internal side with which to lock it. This type of lock features a deadbolt rather than spring bolt for extra security. These serve a similar purpose as a doorknob lock but can provide a more appealing look to the exterior of a home.
3. Hand Levers
Hand levers are an excellent choice for inside doors, like closets or basement doors. They feature a simple handle lever on one side and a twist knob on the other.
These locks don’t provide as much security as others, so they’re not an ideal option for entry doors. But, they do allow you to open doors quickly with one hand, which is useful when you’re carrying groceries or laundry through the home.
Deadbolt locks are a separate mechanism from the doorknob, which gives your entry doors an additional layer of security. Many home and business owners choose to have both a doorknob lock and deadbolt on their entry doors to prevent the risk of intruders.
Deadbolts can reduce the risk of forced entry by creating a secure lock system that makes it nearly impossible for a burglar to break in through the door. Deadbolts can be both single and double cylinder designs, with double cylinder offering even more protection from unauthorized persons gaining access to the home.
5. Barrel Bolt
A barrel bolt, also known as a sliding bolt, goes on the inside of the door to keep you safe when you’re in your home with your family. This lock has two pieces: one that goes on the door frame and the other main locking assembly that goes on the door.
The main assembly has a cylindrical lock that you can slide into the catch to lock the door from the inside. Some people choose to install one at the top of the door and another at the bottom for extra safety.
6. Chain Lock
Chain locks are ones you usually see on the inside of hotel doors. These locks have a catch on the door frame and a main locking assembly on the door, much like a barrel bolt, but use a chain to lock the door instead of the cylinder piece.
The idea of the chain lock is to allow you to open the door slightly to greet someone while still keeping the door closed. A person won’t be able to come inside until you close the door and release the chain, allowing you to open the door all the way.
7. Cam Locks
You’ll usually find cam locks in filing cabinets, mailboxes, lockers, and low-security bank deposit boxes. The cam lock is a simplified version of other locks, requiring a key to turn a cam, which locks and unlocks it. Cam locks can be either flat or tubular, with keys of the same shape necessary to open them.
8. Simple Padlocks
Padlocks are one of the simplest types of door locks. You’ll typically see these locks on doors that don’t need high-level security, like shed and storage unit doors. These locks aren’t attached to anything else but instead lock into themselves.
Padlocks can be small or large and usually are square or rectangle-shaped with a U-shaped bar. One end of the bar stays in the lock but moves up and down to allow the other side to lock and release.
9. Circular Padlocks
A circular padlock, or disc padlock, is another type of padlock that offers a bit more protection for people who want a more secure shed or storage unit. They’re also detached from the doors they lock but are thicker and more challenging to break than a regular padlock.
A circular padlock has a curved bar that protrudes from one side of the lock, moves through the handles on the door, and locks back into itself to prevent the door from opening.
10. Electronic Locks
Electronic locks are ones that don’t require keys to lock and unlock them. Instead, they have a keypad or card system in which you can use a special code or key to unlock the door. Most of the time, these locks lock the door automatically. You’ll usually find electronic locks in hotel rooms, schools, and offices.
Many electronic locks do have a combination key system, too, that you can use a regular key with if you forget your code or card key. These locks usually operate on batteries that can last for a long time.
Some electronic locks even come with a remote entry system in which you can open the lock for known guests using your smartphone or computer when you’re away from home.
I. Smart Locks and Systems
Smart locks are the newest breed of door locks to enter the scene. With this type of lock, a smartphone acts as the key, allowing remote access to your home from virtually anywhere in the world.
These locks are often more than just locks, though. Some smart locks can be a part of a full system of video and audio monitoring and other smart features that give you ultimate control over your home.
Most smart locks still have a keyhole included so that you can use it when you come home, rather than unlocking the door via a connected app.
The three main types of smart door locks are:
Bluetooth is currently the most common connection for smart locks. These locks connect directly to your smartphone, so you don’t need any hub in between to make the connection. Bluetooth makes some exciting features possible, like allowing your lock to automatically sense your Bluetooth device when you’re within range, causing it to unlock itself when you arrive home.
The downfall of this connection is that, once you’re out of range, you can’t control your lock.
Wi-Fi is another connection option that many smart lock manufacturers are offering for their systems. Wi-Fi connection lets you control your device from anywhere, so long as you stay connected to the internet. Even if you’re at work, you can let someone in your home using your device.
However, Wi-Fi locks tend to drain batteries much faster than Bluetooth-enabled locks, sometimes requiring you to change batteries every month or so.
Z-Wave locks require a hub to connect to, which then allows you to connect to the lock with your internet-connected mobile device. It’s like a cross between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi locks.
Z-Wave smart locks will need to be within a specific range from the hub to work. Signal range extenders may help strengthen the signal if you can’t have the hub within range.
11. Child-Proof Locks
Child-proof locks, or child safety locks, are another kind of lock that you can use on several types of doors within the home to keep little fingers out. These aren’t necessarily for security, but more for the safety of young children who could harm themselves by getting into the contents of the refrigerator, cabinets, or other things in the kitchen.
According to KidsHealth.org, the leading cause of death in children up to age 14 is an accidental injury. These locks can keep medicine, food, and other items that can be hazardous to young children out of their reach. Additionally, some door locks can keep kids out of closets or away from unsafe stairways.
a. Refrigerator Door Locks
Although there are several types of locks you can put on the refrigerator door, the most common type is the button lock. This lock has one side with a button mounted on the refrigerator door that clasps the hook of the other side, which mounts onto the refrigerator. A parent can press the button to release the clasp, allowing the door to open.
b. Cabinet Locks
Locks for cabinet doors can install either on the inside part of the door or go around the handles to prevent you from opening them easily. The most common type is the inner-door lock, which attaches to the top of the inner part of the cabinet and hooks into a piece you install on the door, or vice versa.
The door opens slightly to allow you to press down on the lock, freeing the hook from the receiving part of the lock.
c. Oven Door Locks
Parents use oven door locks to keep young children from pulling themselves up on the oven door, or opening it out of curiosity when it’s in use to prevent severe burns and injuries.
The most popular type of lock for oven doors is a no-drill lock with two adhesive pieces, one detached and one attached to the locking piece. One part connects to the oven door, and the other attaches to the oven. A small lock grasps the detached button-like portion to lock and flips up to unlock the door.
You can use this kind of lock for cabinets, refrigerators, and more.
d. Door Top Locks
Top locks for doors are high enough that young children can’t reach them. These locks are good options for parents with kids who have figured out how to open baby gates and other child-proofing systems.
You install these at the very top of the door and pull on a hanging latch to unlock it. You can also unlock the door from either side to prevent locking yourself in or out.
D. More Details
There are a few more critical things you should know before venturing out to find the right door lock for your home and family, like lock grades and taking the proper measurements for your lock.
1. Measuring for a Door Lock
Finding the right lock for your door relies on the proper backset measurement. This is the measurement from the very edge of the door to the center of the hole for the locking mechanism. The most common backset measurements for residential locks are 2 3/4 inches and 2 3/8 inches.
You should also measure the lock bore and lock spacing. The locking bore is the diameter of the hole where the lock will sit, the same hole you used for the backset measurement.
The lock spacing measurement is the distance between the two holes of locks you have on your door, presuming you have a standard doorknob lock and a deadbolt. If you have only one lock on your door, you won’t need a lock spacing measurement.
a. Door Handing
Door handing refers to the way in which your door opens. This is vital information to know before you purchase a lock because it will affect the type of lock you need since the bolt will need to face the right direction.
Look at the hinges of your door. Doors with hinges on the left side will need a left-handed lock, typically noted with LH on the packaging. Doors with right-side hinges will need a right-handed lock, indicated by RH on the packaging.
b. Lock Grades
The lock grade is a significant number to which to pay attention. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) assigns grades to locks that reflect how well you can expect them to perform over time. The grades range from 3 to 1, with 3 reflecting basic security and 1 reflecting top-level security.
You can expect lower-grade locks to wear out after a shorter period. They may be less expensive, but you’ll likely have to replace them more often. Additionally, Grade 3 locks may not provide as much security for your home as Grade 2 or Grade 1 locks will.
E. Door Lock FAQ
How Do Door Locks Work?
There are a variety of locks available, based on the type of door you wish to lock.
A basic pin-and-tumbler lock consists of several spring-loaded pins within sets of cylinders. When the key designed to fit the lock is inserted, the properly aligned teeth/notches allow the spring-loaded pins to move, ultimately meeting what is called the shear line.
Each key is created with different ridge patterns, which will only fit a specific lock.
What is the Best Lubricant for Door Locks?
It is best to use a lubricant designed specifically for a lock. Most experts suggest using a synthetic, dry, non-oily lubricant/protectant. This synthetic lubricant helps to repel dirt or dust – or any other debris that may be transferred from the lining of a pocket. This lubricant repels dust or sand and will help ensure the lock works effortlessly, without getting sticky or problematic.
How Do Portable Door Locks Work?
As its name suggests, a portable door lock is an added (or secondary) security device that can be used by renters, business travelers while on the road, families on vacation, or anywhere you think it is a good idea to increase your personal security.
A portable door lock will not damage the door or frame that it is used on. But note that a portable door lock can only be used when you are in the room you are locking. If you are traveling with others who are sharing the same accommodations, remember that there is no way to unlock a portable door lock from outside the room.
How Do Sliding Door Locks Work?
Because a sliding glass door operates differently from other doors, sliders must be locked using a door lock specially designed for its unique design. Sliding doors are a great option in tight spaces because there is no need to worry about which way a door will swing.
Sliding door locks are available in a variety of styles. Among the more popular sliding-door locks are –
- Mortise Locks –the most secure and most popular of residential locks.
- Double-Bolt Lock – requires a key on either side of the door.
- Offset Thumb Turn Lock – is reversible for left or right opening doors.
- Loop-Lock – adds security, if desired.
- Plus, many other options, depending on your needs.
Do House Door Locks Freeze? If So, At What Temperature?
Yes, the lock to an outside door to a house may freeze if conditions warrant. Locks tend to freeze when water vapor (in high humidity) condenses on the lock’s mechanism. When outside temps drop below freezing, the condensed water turns to ice, essentially freezing the lock’s moving parts.
Locks will begin to freeze when temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which translates to 0 degrees on the Celsius scale, or as it is sometimes known, the Centigrade (0 – 100) scale.
Another factor that may impact the workings of a house door lock is the humidity and temperature impacting wooden door frames, which may contract (in freezing temps) or expand (in high humid conditions) enough to affect how the lock works.
How Long Do Front Door Locks Last?
To ensure a mechanical device operates correctly – and to use it for its expected useful life, it must be maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
The front door lock is no exception. Most industry professionals generally agree that, on average, most residential locks – even mid-priced hardware store quality door locks, have a lifespan of around seven years. Some locks, given their limited usage, may last longer.
There are other important reasons to change the lock to a front a door that have nothing to do with how well the locks work. These include –
- Missing or lost keys aren’t’ always of great concern unless the keys that were lost were found with other identifying information.
- If your living situation has changed (a divorce, a separation, or a roommate change), it may be wise to change the locks preventatively.
- You simply want to upgrade to a more secure front door lock.
F. Where to Buy Door Locks Online
Hopefully, this guide helped you learn all about the parts and types of door locks on the market and how they differ from each other. Whether you want high-security locks for the front door or some child-proof door locks for your appliances, you can find what you need at the following online retailers: